Blueberries come in a range of colors, from deep purple to pale blue. While most blueberries are purple, some varieties are in fact blue. So can you eat a blue-colored blueberry? The short answer is yes!
What determines blueberry color?
The color of a blueberry is determined by the presence of anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanins are flavonoid compounds that give many fruits, vegetables, and flowers their red, purple, and blue hues. They also act as antioxidants in plants to protect them from environmental stressors.
Blueberries contain high levels of anthocyanins compared to other fruits. The specific types and concentrations of anthocyanins present result in the deep purple color most blueberries exhibit.
However, some blueberry varieties have mutations that result in different pigment levels. This leads to blueberries ranging from dark purple to reddish-purple to blue.
Blueberry varieties and their colors
While most blueberries are purple, here are some common blueberry types that can appear more blue:
- Bluecrop – A Northern highbush variety that produces medium-sized berries. Berries are pale blue when ripe.
- Earliblue – An early season Northern highbush variety. Berries are soft blue in color.
- Pink Lemonade – A hybrid variety with a unique blush pink to pale blue color.
- Jellybean – A compact Southern highbush variety. Produces small, light blue berries.
There are also white and pink blueberry cultivars. The different colors are a result of breeding programs looking to diversify flavors, sizes, and plant growth habits.
Are blue blueberries safe to eat?
Yes, blue-colored blueberry varieties are just as safe and nutritious to eat as purple blueberries. The color variation does not make them toxic or unfit for consumption.
All blueberries contain beneficial nutrients and antioxidants like:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
These compounds are present regardless of whether the berries are purple, blue, pink, or white. The different pigments do not negatively impact nutrient levels.
Do blue blueberries taste different?
Most blue-colored blueberries have a similar flavor profile to regular purple blueberries. They taste sweet and slightly tart, with the same signature “blueberry” flavor.
However, there can be subtle flavor differences depending on the variety. For example:
- Bluecrop blueberries tend to be milder in flavor compared to other highbush types.
- Pink Lemonade blueberries have a distinct candy-like sweetness.
- Jellybean blueberries are reported to be extra sweet and intense in flavor.
So while the main blueberry flavor remains intact, unique varieties can differ in aspects like sweetness, tartness, and intensity.
How to use blue blueberries
Blue blueberries can be used in all the same ways as regular purple blueberries:
- Eaten raw – Rinse and enjoy plain for a healthy snack or topping for yogurt, oatmeal, cereals, etc.
- Baked goods – Add to muffins, scones, pies, cakes, cookies, etc.
- Jams and jellies – Cook into sweet preserves spread on toast, pancakes, or sandwiches.
- Smoothies – Blend with ice, milk/yogurt, and other fruit for a nutrition-packed beverage.
In recipes, the unique color of blue blueberries can make for extra visual appeal. They will impart the same flavor as regular blueberries.
Where to find blue blueberries
You may be able to find blue blueberries at your local grocery store or farmer’s market during peak blueberry season in summer. However, they are less common than conventional purple blueberries.
Your best bet is to go directly to a blueberry farm or nursery that grows different blueberry cultivars. Many offer pick-your-own opportunities to collect a range of blueberry types.
You can also purchase seeds, plants, or bushes of select blue-colored varieties to grow your own blue blueberry crop!
Here is a comparison of the nutritional profiles of 100g of purple vs. blue blueberries (Source: USDA):
As shown, blueberries provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants regardless of anthocyanin pigment levels and fruit color.
Do all blueberries start out green?
No, not all blueberry varieties start out green. Some cultivars develop directly from pink buds into their ripe color.
However, most conventional blueberries do go through a green phase early in fruit development before ripening into purple, blue, or other shades.
While less common than the purple variety, blue-colored blueberries are just as edible and nutritious. Their unique color is due to lower anthocyanin pigments compared to regular blueberries, but this has no negative effect on flavor or nutrition.
Blue blueberries can be used similarly to typical purple blueberries and provide the same health benefits. Their varying shades simply add diversity to this antioxidant-rich fruit. So feel free to enjoy blueberries of any hue!